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Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Who's Fooling Whom?

Touchstone is a professional Fool, a court jester. Like Feste in Twelfth Night, he is “an allowed fool” – someone permitted to speak unpleasant truths, as long as it's done in an entertaining way. As Frederick grows more and more insecure about his status as Duke, he becomes less and less willing to hear witty criticisms of his rule and of his followers. One courtier describes Touchstone to Frederick as “the roynish [mangy or annoying] clown, at whom so oft your Grace was wont to laugh”: the Fool has clearly fallen out of favor. Celia is worried that he'll be whipped for overstepping the new bounds of acceptable jesting. Touchstone responds to her warning with the rueful observation, “The more pity, that fools may not speak wisely what wise men do foolishly.” The Forest of Arden, with all its inconveniences (which Touchstone will eagerly catalog), is still more welcoming than Frederick's court, so Touchstone accompanies Rosalind and Celia in exile.

Jaques, impressed by Touchstone's cynical wit and unaware of the practical limits that professional jesters often face, naively thinks that Fools enjoy utter liberty in speaking their minds. Although he announces himself “ambitious for a motley coat,” the jester's uniform, he helps Touchstone find new employment in the service of Duke Senior. Touchstone's audition piece is a tour de force critique of notions of honor (his first topic with Rosalind and Celia, as well): his seven degrees of the lie map out how much one can take until one is socially obligated to fight a duel for honor's sake – and even then how one might avoid the duel by enlisting the power of If.

Fool, however, is also an insult. A “natural” fool suffers from a lack of wit – meaning intelligence. Rosalind and Celia teasingly refer to Touchstone as a “natural”; Frederick repeatedly tells his daughter that she is a fool for not being suspicious of Rosalind. Jaques and Orlando exchange barbs by indirectly calling each other fool; before that, Jaques is able to "call fools into a circle" with his new lyrics for one of Amiens' songs. Even Touchstone dismisses William, his rival for Audrey, as the wrong kind of fool: when William compliments himself for having a “pretty wit,” Touchstone reminds him that “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” The idea of a fool having “little wit,” however, contributes to the element of surprise in the professional Fool's critiques and also softens the blow . . . somewhat.

Flatwater Free Shakespeare's As You Like It wraps up its summer tour this weekend! Thursday at Densmore Park, 6761 S. 14th. Friday at Lincoln Community Foundation Garden, near 14th and N. Saturday and Sunday at The Swan Theatre at Wyuka Stables, 3600 "O" Street. Showtime 7 p.

 Photo: Megan Higgins as Rosalind, Emma Gruhl as Celia, and Tom Crew as Touchstone in Flatwater Shakespeare's As You Like It. Photo Credit: Mark Lee.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pre-Order Food Baskets at James Arthur Vineyards This Friday

After Thursday at First Plymouth Church, *As You Like It* returns to James Arthur Vineyards in Raymond on Friday night. Food baskets can be pre-ordered. 

From James Arthur Vineyards: "We’re excited to have you all out again and we're offering pre-order baskets similar to last year's.

"The Wine and Cheese Lovers' Basket includes sausage, cheese, bread, and a couple of chocolates – for $9.99 + tax. Folks can call us at 402-783-5255 and place the order with a credit card and we will have it ready that evening when they arrive. Also, we’ll give them three cheese choices: Mild Yellow, Havarti, and Smoked Bacon.

"Yes, we will have James Arthur Vineyard wines, bottled water, and soda available all evening."

Monday, June 15, 2015

Lincoln Theatre Alliance (LTA) Meet the Members Event!

The LTA proudly announces a Meet the Members gathering at:

Lincoln Community Playhouse at 2500 S. 56th Street
June 20th from 4:30 – 6:30

The event will include a unique presentation from each group to introduce themselves to the audience, as well as a wide variety of food and a cash bar. The event is free and open to everyone. 

LTA consists of:
  • Flatwater Shakespeare Company
  • The TADA Theatre
  • Lincoln Community Playhouse
  • Angels Theatre Company
  • Beatrice Community Players
  • Omni Arts Nebraska
  • The Haymarket Theatre
  • Pinewood Bowl, Inc.
  • The Johnny Carson School of Theatre & Film
  • The Stage Theater
  • The Lofte Community Theatre
  • Theatre Arts for Kids
  • Nebraska Wesleyan University Theatre
  • Southeast Community College
  • Youth Actors Academy of Lincoln
  • Nebraska Repertory Theatre
More about LTA can be found on Facebook 

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Names in *As You Like It*

What's in a name? I know: wrong play. But it's a worthwhile question in As You Like It, a play that plays extensively on names.

The title alone links the play with another comedy whose heroine assumes male disguise: Twelfth Night, or What You Will – in other words (among many other meanings), What You Desire. When Rosalind, as Ganymede, decides to settle all the romantic confusions, she gives this promise to Silvius: “I will content you, if what pleases you contents you, and you shall be married tomorrow.”

Rosalind is borrowed from Thomas Lodge's novel Rosalynde: Euphues Golden Legacy (first published 1590 and reprinted many times) – a pastoral romance featuring many of the same plot elements and many of the same characters, with most of the same names.

In Lodge as well as Shakespeare, the name our heroine adopts is, as Rosalind proudly announces, that of “Jove's own page.” Ganymede was the most beautiful human being on earth, so Zeus (Jupiter or Jove in Latin) took on the form of an eagle and carried him off to Olympus. Ganymede served as cupbearer to the gods and, not surprisingly, as one of Zeus's amorous favorites.

Celia (whose name means “heavenly”) takes the name Aliena: foreigner, traveler, outsider, exile.

Orlando's name is borrowed from the Romance-Epic tradition that took the medieval Song of Roland, the hero of which is one of Charlemagne's knights, as the basis for explorations of love. The name Roland, in Italian, becomes Orlando. Matteo Maria Boiardo wrote Orlando Innamorato, Orlando in Love, near the end of the 1400s. Ludovico Ariosto took things even further with Orlando Furioso, Orlando Frenzied (by love), completing the work in 1532.

Touchstone, the jester, is one of Shakespeare's new contributions to the story. His name comes from the use of dark stones, such as slate, to determine the purity of softer precious metals, such as gold. When a line is drawn on a touchstone with a piece of gold, the color of the trace indicates the gold's quality and value. By extension, how one responds to the jesting of a “worthy fool” (as Jaques describes him) can be an indication of one's own worthiness.

The residents of the forest nearly all have names taken directly from pastoral literature, which is set in an idealized world of shepherds (pastores, in Latin) and shepherdesses. The genre was invented in ancient times and became fashionable again in the Renaissance, an era characterized by rediscovery of Greek and Roman culture. The names include Corin (a typical shepherd's name in the pastoral world), Silvius (literally, a dweller in the forest), and Phebe (another name for the chaste moon – otherwise known as Diana, the sister of Apollo, AKA Phoebus, god of the sun). The mythic Ganymede worked as a shepherd, despite his royal birth, before being carried off by Zeus.

The estranged brothers in the play are far more similar than different, if their names are any indication: Orlando and Oliver, Frederick and Ferdinand (Fred and Ferd, for short). If so, no wonder the “evil” brothers turn out to be not so evil after sudden conversions: Oliver is changed by Orlando's risking his own life and by Aliena's love; Frederick is persuaded by a holy man to abandon his plans to slaughter everybody in the forest.

We learn about Frederick's change of heart from the previously unknown Jaques de Boys, the middle brother between Oliver and Orlando. Why does this character get the same name as melancholy Jaques? A rush to finish the play in time for opening the show? A simple brain fart? Maybe. But I suspect that Shakespeare wants us to realize that the philosophical Jaques is also a middle brother: one who has received the education and social grooming that was denied Orlando, but who cannot inherit the family estate. So he has sold off what limited property was set aside for him and has spent his life attached to one court or another. As Rosalind/Ganymede tells Jaques: “A traveler! By my faith, you have great reason to be sad: I fear you have sold your own lands to see other men's; then, to have seen much and to have nothing, is to have rich eyes and poor hands.” But Rosalind speaks from the relative security of being an only child.

The rules of inheritance could lead to considerable unhappiness – and to understandable tension between siblings. Examples elsewhere in Shakespeare include Old Hamlet and Claudius, Edmund and Edgar in King Lear, Goneril and Regan and Cordelia in the same play. Rosalind and Celia are cousins, not siblings – which may help to explain their happier relationship. And since Orlando is simply the Italianate form of Roland, this youngest son has been marked as a favorite (like Cordelia): he's Sir Rowland Junior.

Photo: Matt Cummins as Silvius and Petrea Whittier as Phebe in Flatwater Shakespeare's As You Like ItPhoto Credit: Matt Ryerson.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

*As You Like It* -- "A Delicious Production"!

The show opened Friday night, back in the friendly confines of The Swan Theatre at Wyuka Stables.

Clear weather, a sizeable and appreciative crowd, and Ivanna Cone ice cream -- delightful!

Oh, and about the show:


The production continues this weekend at The Swan and then goes on the road for three more weekends -- don't miss it!

Photo: Megan Higgins as Rosalind/Ganymede, Emma Gruhl as Celia/Aliena, and Cale Yates as Orlando in Flatwater Shakespeare's *As You Like It*. Photo Credit: John Nollendorfs.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

FAQ for Flatwater Free Shakespeare's *As You Like It*

Flatwater FREE Shakespeare
Summer Tour 2015
As You Like It

Got questions? We have answers.

What Is Your Inclement Weather Policy?
It is our desire to complete every performance, and we will make every effort to start, continue, and finish each show despite light rainfall or breezy conditions.

In the event of heavy rains or winds, however, we may delay the start of the show, or the completion of the show, in the hope that the weather will clear. Announcements will be made informing audience members of "holds." We may also pause to take precautions to ensure the safety and health of the performers and crew.

If severe storms are likely or imminent, shows may be cancelled beforehand. To find out if a show is cancelled prior to showtime, please check our Facebook page or call our Information Line at 402-473-2897. A recorded message will advise you accordingly.

Do I Need a Reservation?
No reservations are needed. However, audience members are strongly encouraged to arrive 30 minutes before the performance time in order to have good seats or places. This is particularly true if you plan on using a blanket at one of the park locations, as space is limited.

Is There a Cost to Attend?
No! Flatwater Shakespeare Company offers the summer touring production FREE of charge. A $10 donation is suggested, but everyone is welcome regardless of whether or not you can make a contribution.

All Good Will donations are greatly appreciated as we continue our tradition of producing Good Will Shakespeare productions.

How Long is the Show?
Performances begin at 7:00pm, including the Sunday performances. The show runs approximately 2 and a half hours, including intermission.

Is the Show “Family Friendly?”
Yes! Our summer production is family friendly as the informal park setting is perfect for children as well as adults to have a taste of the Bard’s wonderful characters, exciting action, and brilliant language. Past audiences have included everyone from babies to people in their 80s, people of wide-ranging cultural and ethnic backgrounds, people with physical disabilities, and even some pets.

You Mean Pets Are Allowed?
Except for performances at The Stables at Wyuka and the Lincoln Community Foundation Garden, furry family members are welcome to attend a performance with you! We request that dogs be kept on a leash. Pet owners must clean up after their dogs.

Are the Locations Accessible?
The performances held at The Swan at Wyuka Stables and the Lincoln Community Foundation are handicapped accessible. The park locations should be accessible for several mobility considerations; however, there may be uneven ground in some areas and limited parking options.

If you have a specific need, please contact Flatwater Shakespeare Company at 402-473-2897. We will do our best to accommodate you.

Are Bathrooms Available?
Yes! The Swan at Wyuka Stables and many park locations have bathroom facilities. Other locations will have port-a-potties available.

Do I Need to Bring My Own Chair or Blanket?
Chairs are provided at the performances held at The Swan (June 4-7, 27-28) and the Lincoln Community Foundation Garden (June 26). Audience members are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets for the performances at the park locations, First Plymouth Church, and James Arthur Vineyards.

May I Bring Food and Beverages?
Yes! Audience members are welcome to bring in snacks, even a picnic supper, for you and your family. We merely ask that all trash items are disposed of after the show so that we leave the performance locations in good condition.

Please note that alcoholic beverages cannot be brought to any of the public locations. However, for the June 19 performance at James Arthur Vineyards, wine will be available for purchase, as well as soft drinks and water. Information about pre-ordering food baskets for the JAV performance will be posted at www.jamesarthurvineyards.com.

Will Other Concessions Be Available?
Yes, there will be limited concessions at The Swan. At the park locations, Flatwater Shakespeare will have bottled water available for a $1 donation. Also at all locations: FREE ICE CREAM! Ivanna Cone is again creating a new ice cream flavor just for our summer touring production.